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Housing ETF Boom Is Not Quite Here, iShares Analyst Says

tlydon@globaltrend.com (Tom Lydon)

Housing data seems positive, or at least less negative, and many observers are predicting a bottom. However, one analyst is still pessimistic on the housing-related exchange traded funds and other investments over the near-term as recent data remains mixed.

“I don’t advocate aggressively leveraging to housing-related investments because I don’t expect a strong housing rebound in the near term,” blogged Russ Koesterich, CFA, Managing Director and Head of Product for North America iShares .

While the housing market has experienced some upbeat numbers, like better affordability, low mortgage rates and February building permits rose to 717,000, a three-year high, there is still a shadow inventory of new homes that is equivalent to 5.6 months of sales, the lowest ratio of inventory sales since 2006, Koesterich said. [Is the Bottom In for Real Estate ETFs?]

Additionally, CoreLogic calculates that there was a pending inventory of 1.6 million delinquent, in foreclosure or already owned housing units in January, or the same shadow inventory as in January 2009.

Koesterich also points out that U.S. consumers are still struggling with paying off the last housing boom and are still only half way through deleveraging debt. Specifically, household debt is 112% of disposable income, which is above the 80% average. Additionally, higher student loan debt levels may also dampen new home sales.

Nevertheless, for those still seeking housing-related investments, Koesterich recommends investors look into real estate investment trusts as a way to gain exposure and generate some income on the side. [Homebuilder ETFs Double S&P 500’s Return]

Some REIT ETF options include:

  • Vanguard REIT Sector ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ)
  • SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (NYSEArca: RWR)
  • First Trust S&P REIT Index Fund ETF (NYSEArca: FRI)

Vanguard REIT Sector ETF

For more information on the housing market, visit our real estate category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.